Pinnacle Studio 23 Review

Before we get into this Pinnacle Studio 23 review fully I should probably mention why this is only the third time I have included Pinnacle Studio on my site as recommended software.

After all it is one of the oldest digital video editing packages that is still available today.

So let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat.

It is highly likely that you will or may have come across some “less than enthusiastic” reviews or commentary about this software program!

Pinnacle Studio was one of the first commercially available video editors aimed at the average home user way back at the dawn of the digital video age.

It has had a chequered history since that time for a number of reasons.

If you want to read the full story, I did a blog post on it a while back which covers all the whys and wherefores of the product’s history and you can see that here.

The Friday Roundup – Corel Breathes New Life into Pinnacle Studio

The ONLY reason I have a Pinnacle Studio review on this site is because Corel, since taking it over back in 2012, have done a mighty job in getting it on track, running smoothly and moving it into forward development.

I could have safely added a Pinnacle Studio review at around version 18 or 19 but left it until version 20 to make absolutely sure Corel were serious about it.

So here we are at Pinnacle Studio 23 and with this newest update it is safe to say that the backlog of stabilization and modernization tasks are complete and we have moved into straight out development mode.

This latest update is further evidence that Pinnacle’s has stopped playing catch up and has returned to the head of the pack again.

I feel very confident in recommending it to anyone looking for video editing software at the more sophisticated end of the consumer or prosumer video editing market.

Why Pinnacle Studio?

If you hadn’t already gathered, the basic purpose of every review on this site is to only include software I have tested myself and found to be acceptable.

This is all in an effort to try to at least simplify the decision making process in choosing a video editor.

The difficulty in this field is that there are about 6 or 7 main contenders, all of them good at what they do and the differences between them are minute.

This apparent “sameness” makes choosing the right one for you very difficult because it is so hard to tell them apart.

So before I get into the Pinnacle Studio 23 review proper let’s just cover what makes it different to the rest of the pack.

The answer to that question could be summed up in one word, control.

Pinnacle Studio does not particularly pack any different or extra features than you wouldn’t find in any of its main competition so let’s be clear on that.

What it does offer are those features designed and presented in a way that allows the user to exert a level of control almost at the standard of fully professional software.

In fact Pinnacle Studio 23 is as close as you can get to a professional video editor while still staying within a “what you see is what you get” style interface without the complication and hefty price tag.

So as is my habit let’s first take a look at the obligatory slick marketing promo video to get a bit of a feel for what the program can do and how it looks.

What’s New and Improved?

Lower on the page and on page two of this Pinnacle Studio 23 review I will go over the individual features of the program but first let’s take a look at what’s new in this latest version.

Remember these are the new features or improvements that are in addition to the already vast range of features the software already offers.


This is not a new feature but is the biggest talking point you will hit if you look at the reputation of Pinnacle anywhere else online stemming from its past.

Early versions of Pinnacle always had a pretty bad reputation for being, shall we say quirky?

Translated into straight talk that means it was buggy and had a tendency to freeze and crash generally at the point where you really didn’t want it to do that! (Not that there is ever a point where you want it to!)

Through versions 18 and 19 Corel concentrated the majority of their efforts into getting the software right as it stood rather than trying to madly add new features.

Although it took a few versions to get it done, they have turned the program around and have gotten it working as a stable platform upon which they could embark on future development.

The days of glibly stating that “Pinnacle Studio is buggy” are well and truly over.

Pinnacle Studio 23 (The basic version.)

LUT Profiles

In the previous version of Pinnacle the ability to add LUTs to the color correction and grading module was added.

In Pinnacle 23 they have added a bunch of preset LUTs (profiles) to the software on top of the existing ones and the ability to import your own.

The software also allows you to further adjust LUTs after they have been added to a project.

Enhanced Keyframe Control

Pinnacle has featured the ability to use keyframes for a long time now but in this version those capabilities have been greatly extended.

You can now use keyframes in a much wider range of scenarios  such as within preset transitions or included effects.

Beyond that you can also use keyframes to achieve smooth speed ramping  or Time Re-mapping to not just speed up or slow down an entire clip.

Sections within the video can also be made to smoothly play faster or slower within the overall clip.

Split Screen Video Templates

New video templates have been added to the Split Screen module which offers you some more starting points for putting together a split screen sequence.

Additionally you can now use an overlaid grid pattern to align your clips accurately and also use keyframes to further adjust how clips behave in the sequence.

Enhanced Performance

For users working with computers that have Intel® Quick Sync video hardware acceleration available Pinnacle Studio 23 is able to take full advantage of this new acceleration technology.

Pinnacle Studio 23 Plus

All of the above plus:

Clip Nesting

You can now group clips or assets together on the timeline with the new nesting feature to reduce clutter and make it simple to navigate sections of your project.

Nesting is not just a feature but also a technique used by pro editors to work far more efficiently.

For example let’s say you have three assets on the timeline and you have applied effects or some kind of changes to each of those assets.

You then decide you want another effect to be applied to all three assets as a group.

Without nesting you would need to render the sequence to a new file, delete the three existing assets, add in the newly rendered file and then apply the effect.

With nesting all you have to do is select the files you want to deal with and choose to have them “nested” and then you can apply effects or changes to them as a group.

Confused?… yeah me too after I read that back to myself! ? Check out the video.

Create Animated GIFs

Any video sequence can now be rendered as a GIF and as you would expect with Pinnacle Studio there is a vast range of settings you can apply.

This ability to fully control the GIF output is vital given that GIFs are mostly distributed to a wide range of services each having thier own requirements and restrictions.

Pinnacle Studio 23 Ultimate

Again, all the above plus:

Video Mask Creator

Masking is nothing really new to video editors at this level however when we refer to masking or using mask we are generally referring to still image masks.

In Pinnacle Studio 23 they have added Video Masking which is a highly complex and very advanced features generally only found in fully pro software.

To get a clear idea of what this really is and the difference between still image and video masking check this video.

Selective Vectorscope

OK so this stuff is getting a little insane!

On top of the added features in the Color Correction/Color Grading module they have added one more thing.

Let’s imagine you have two clips on the timeline.

You have color corrected them and have even applied a LUT to both of them so that they match perfectly and look as though they belong together.

However because they came from different cameras or were shot in different types of light there is still a slight mismatch of the footage.

With the Vectorscope you can now move between the two on the timeline and see exactly what those little differences are and get them to match up perfectly.

Other new features include:

  • Copy/Paste Color Attributes
  • Export Alpha Channel
  • 360 Freeze Frame
  • NewBlue Audio Essentials

So that’s about it for all the new stuff and a catch up on how we got here with Pinnacle Studio 23!

Use the links below to either read the rest of this review or go to the Pinnacle website to take a look at the software for yourself.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 23

Click Here to Read Part Two of the Pinnacle Studio 23 Review

4.5 / 5 stars

View Comments (84)

  • Hi just purchased 23 but every time I make a dvd the sound sync is terrible any ideas what I am doing wrong looks all right before I burn it to disk very frustrating 😭

    • Hi Tony,
      OK so that a pretty common problem that is definitely NOT associated with just Pinnacle.
      I have seen that many time with lots of other software and that is because the usual cause is not the software itself.
      It is usually caused by the computer failing to keep up with the process of creating the DVD.
      So the first thing you should do is have you project loaded up into the timeline.
      Now go to the Export module and export a DVD compliant MPEG2 file.
      Play that file on your computer to check for any sync problems but it should be OK.
      Now clear the timeline completely and go to the disc burning module and choose to burn a DVD.
      When asked for a file navigate to the MPEG2 file you created and use that for the DVD.
      Go through the DVD authoring process as usual and you should end up with a fully synced DVD.
      If that fails come back to this site and send me a message using the "Contact" button because failure would suggest a problem more specific to your computer and setup.
      That kind of problem a far easier to deal with in an email exchange.

  • Hello, and thank you for your review. I have studio 12 plus, and have been wanting to upgrade for some time but first needed to get a better computer. Now that I have a more capable system, I'm ready to upgrade and have been looking at studio 23. My only concern is, will studio 23 import my previous projects. I have been looking a bit across the internet for this answer and have found it for some earlier versions of studio, but not a specific reference for 23. I am wondering if you might have an answer to that question. Thank you and I appreciate your reviews.

    • Hi Tim,
      OK you got me with this one!
      Usually project files will behave reasonably well going back five or six version or so with most software.
      However in your case I think it is going to be a bit of a crap shoot going back to version 12!
      Unfortunately I think you are going to have to just bite the bullet and see what happens.
      The other thing to keep in mind is that Pinnacle does NOT overwrite previous versions when you upgrade.
      Each version exists as a standalone version so even if 23 cannot open the projects you can still have 12 there as a backup.

  • Earlier in this year I purchased Pinnacle 22 but it would not let me import from my Panasonic 4K camera. I then had to upgrade my PC After much communication with Corel the problem was not solved. I asked and received a full refund for the product. I have previously used and was very satisfied with Pinnacle 19 before I bought my 4K. I am in communication once more with Corel but I cannot get an answer. Before I purchase will pinnacle 23 ultimate edit 4K .

    • Hi George,
      The short answer is yes but it comes with two "BUTS!"
      First up you have to go with the "Ultimate" version not the vanilla Pinnacle Studio or Plus version to get 4K support.
      Secondly working with 4K requires pretty good computer resources so you need to makes sure you are good to go in that department as well.

  • I have Pinnacle 17 and I'm not looking to get anything more complicated. Basically, I make videos of special events for my friends and invariably, I wind up frustrated with problems. Could you recommend a video-editing software that will simply give me the functions to insert photos, small video clips, music, snippets from a voice recorder, and a few transitions. That's all I need. I'm tired of screaming at my computer. Many thanks,

    • Hi Chris,
      Yeah, I know exactly what you mean and I feel your pain!

      I have a few high end editing solutions on my computer and by "high end" I mean woefully complicated.

      Given the fact that I am not going to be using 95% of their features except on very specific projects it's a bit like taking a Sherman Tank to a knife fight.

      So, what do I use? Filmora.

      Easily the most used editing software on my computer because it just cuts, chops, slices and dices.

      Review link below but check out their website and use the free trial, I think it will be what you are looking for.

      Filmora Review

  • I am retired, and have been for over 20 years, which means my income is limited.
    I bought Pinnacle Studio 21 because my use of Pinnacles goes back to version six if I remember correctly.
    But shortly after I did that, Adobe came out with PS 22 and now they are after me to upgrade. Naturally
    the upgrade isn't free.
    I'm only interested in creating some DVDs that contain Ideas that I and a few others are interested in, which
    is usually confined to religious issues.
    In your opinion, would there be any advantage for me to shell out more money, and buy PS 22?
    If so, why?
    If you have the time, and want to answer this post, please make it in English so I can understand better
    what it is you are talking about.

    • Hi Thomas,
      Lucky you asked for an answer in English because that's all I have!
      First up, Adobe are not bugging you to upgrade... Corel are as they own the software.
      I don't really like Adobe much as a company but we have to be fair here!
      You seem happy with Pinnacle 21, and if it does everything you need then there is absolutely NO reason to upgrade.
      When looking at upgrades there are only a few things you need to consider.
      1. Does my current version have a problem that the new version is designed to fix?
      2. Does the new version have some new feature that I would definitely use? (Not WANT, USE!)
      3. Is my current version so old that it is beginning to fail because general computer hardware or operating systems have begun to leave it behind?
      4. Is my current version so old that I may lose the discounts available when upgrading from one version to the next. (Pinnacle currently has NO backdate policy on this, all versions from the beginning of time are eligible.)
      4. Do I have too much money and need to spend it on having the latest version to make me feel good about myself or to impress my friends?

  • I have just purchased Pinnacle Studio 22 Ultimate. Having downloaded the software, I immediately enjoyed testing its facilities without a single hitch. I was very pleased with the performance. I then closed the programme, and switched off my computer. When I later switched on my computer a couple of days later, I found that the Pinnacle software simply wouldn't 'fire-up!' The boot page simply started to initialise the databases etc... and then closed. No error messages or other clues as to the cause were forthcoming. Nothing that I have tried, including reloading the software, will persuade the programme to run! Has anyone else had a similar problem?? (I have plenty of system resources on an i7 based system with plenty of RAM.)

    • Hi Chris,
      Yeah, that's kind of annoying!
      This is not a problem particularly exclusive to Pinnacle.
      Usually it arises because the Windows operating system allows software to assign its own "importance" in the world of your computer when it comes to sharing resources.
      Something already on your computer has probably pushed itself to the front of the line at the expense of Pinnacle... how rude!
      Most of the time this is just described as a conflict.
      So to fix it try re-installing Pinnacle. Don't worry at this stage about uninstalling them re-installing. Just install over the top of the existing installation.
      If that doesn't work you may have to go nuclear and uninstall Pinnacle, do a clean up of the computer then re-install.
      If that becomes necessary then kick me out an email using the "contact" button and I'll guide you through that.

  • So you mean versions 18 to 20 are like the old interface, only less crashes ?

    I am a 10.7 user, and rather used to that interface.

    • Hi Ντέβι,
      Yes that pretty much sums it up.
      The crashing problems began to reduce on 16 and 17 and finally by version 18 or 19 Corel had it under control.
      Version 20 was an update to add a lot of features that other software already had so by version 21 getting the software under control and bringing it fully into what most current editors offer.
      Version 21 mainly concentrated on the last thing Corel needed to bring yp to date and that was the interface which really hadn't changed much for many, many years.

      Unfortunately that update for users like you who have spent a lot of time learning to live with the old one may not really be that attractive!

      But for new users it is a far easier program to learn becuase of that more intuitive interface.

      My rule on any updates is don't do it unless to HAVE TO or if some new feature is worth the price.

  • I too used Pinnacle up to ver 15 and changed to Cyberlink Power Director because it offered proxy editing and Pinnacle did not. Now I edit almost exclusively in UHD, owning a FDR AX100 camcorder.
    What I am missing is the ability to create UHD BR discs, nobody offers it at this time. My hopes were high that the new version of PD16 would have it, but no.

    Apparently there is not much demand. Partly because users do not realize that, with proxy editing, one does not need a real fast computer. Anyone that can do BR should be able to do UHD. It just takes longer.

    What is the outlook for UHD authoring. What is the hold up? Licensing cost? Since HECP is now widely used, only the dics file system needs to be changed.

    Hi, Russel looks like you are looking for greener pastures too too.


    • Hi Eugene,
      Basically it all comes down to market forces on this development line.
      The overall consumer uptake on just run of the mill Blu-ray has been underwhelming to say the least.
      The OMG factor when the market went from VHS to DVD drove the development quite fiercely.
      The same cannot be said for HD because the average Joe while appreciating the glory of HD is not that fussed about quality over and above a widescreen DVD!
      The other factor is that 4K is a bit pointless unless you have a ginormous screen to display it in all it's glory and again, Joe Average hasn't really felt the need to reach into his pocket and fork out for it.
      Over time this will change as the market develops but for now I can assure you that what you are looking for is going to be well down the list of "stuff we need to get done" at you local software and hardware company!

  • In Studio21 ultimate: when using the NewBlueFX noise reducer on a UHD video from a Galaxy6 and export the clip the performance is really poor: it takes 3 seconds to proces a single frame, so that is 90 seconds to proces 1 second of video. Anybody any suggestion as to how to solve this issue ?

    • Hi Lance, thanks for responding. One correction to my previous post, this was the processing time for a FHD file exported by Studio21, orig file was de Galaxy S6 UHD file. When processing the UHD file it was even worse, about 9 minutes to process 10 frames!
      This is what I tried:
      - used FHD source: Galaxy S6 (30FPS)
      - timeline is set to use the first frame as project setting
      - drop clip on timeline (12 second clip)
      - export with same properties as timeline, no edits, no effects (sound bitrate is different because not available)
      - new movie
      - drop exported clip in timeline
      - apply all sorts of NewBlueFX effects, even mulitple
      - always render with option to re-render entire movie
      - render times between 18 seconds and 1:49 sec (very normal)
      - removing all effects between exports
      - using Color Replace effect and hand picked the colors it took 13 min (proces intensive)
      - the Noise Reducer took 21 min for the 12 second clip (30FPS)
      Tried all of the above with the original file as well and there is virtually no difference in rendering.
      During processing the CPU usage does not go above +/- 33% (4 cores, HT disabled).
      Tried CUDA and Intel acceleration, gives about the same resulting timing

      - I also have Studio12, using video effect noise reduction it takes 2:10 to render the same file, that is 10 times faster than Studio21 (still slow but ok)
      - Davinci Resolve (free version) Spatial NR took 50 sec. (Pretty good) (Resolve is using the CUDA processors)

      My system is:
      - Windows 10 Pro 64bit
      - i7 @3.2 GHz (HT is disabled)
      - 24GB mem
      - SSD + HD (Studio render files are on SSD)
      - Nvidia Quadro P600


      • Hi Bart, OK then!
        I got your other note by the way.
        So first up good detective work!
        I think from that there is clearly a problem with the NewBlue filter OR its integration inside Pinnacle.
        So as a result of that I have no idea what to do!
        If I were you I would absolutely raise a ticket with Corel to see of they can replicate the problem and secondly I would post all that detail on to the Pinnacle User forum to see if anyone there has any ideas.
        Forum address here: http://forums.pinnaclesys.com/forums/242/ShowForum.aspx

    • OK that's going to make for a seriously long render!
      I have had a look around the usual traps and found nothing else like this so it is either specific to your computer (feeling special?) or something about the Samsung files.

      The first thing is this: Are you adding the filter and at the same time rendering the file to a set of parameters that are dramatically different to the original Samsung file?

      If yes then you may need to do that as a two step process because the amount of recalculating the computer has to work through would be enormous!

      If not, read on.

      Given that we are way down the development track on HD now you would think there is some kind of rigid standard being applied to the way video files are produced... sadly, not so.

      If this was my situation I would do this:
      1. Load one of those Samsung files on to the timeline in a new project.

      2. Right click and note down the parameters of the files. Resolution, frame rate, bitrate, type of file... the whole shebang.

      3. Render that file to a totally new file at exactly the same parameters adding no filters or adjustments or anything.
      Just a straight re-render of the file and don't forget to give it a name and location you will remember!

      4. Take that newly rendered file and try to apply the same effect you were having trouble with and see if the processing time improves.

      Get back to me here if it doesn't work.

  • Hi Lance,
    I have done some tests with acceleration through the CUDA, and without that help, rendering is faster. As an example, I have a 4-minute video with a few transitions. With Cuda, rendering takes 8:05 minutes and without Cuda takes 5:30 minutes. I've always activated the CUDA in all versions of Pinnacle Studio, but I only decided to test how important it would be in the editor's performance in version 19. Now I'm in version 20 and the result is the same.
    Have you ever done this experience of shutting down the CUDA? Do you have a solution for that? Thank you.

    • Hi Sergio,
      So here's the real deal with CUDA and other acceleration settings.

      Across the planet there are quite literally millions of differently configured and differently featured computers.

      They all run a vast array of base settings in the operating system as well as even more settings within the software they are running.

      On top of that you have an equally vast selection of hardware setups and devices all running their own software or firmware.

      Companies like Corel or CyberLink or whatever have to somehow "fit" into all of this doing what is probably the most resource intensive action you can do on a computer, video editing.

      In "most" cases implementing CUDA would have been found in their testing to have increased rendering speed BUT... not in all cases.

      It's like asking how long is a piece of string?

      You have to know WHICH piece of string we are talking about!

      In your case with a four minute video with transitions you got a 5:30 result and an 8:05 result.

      To me that's a no brainer.

      Turn off CUDA because on your setup you are getting an excellent render time without it.

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